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  • How full is your Minnesota Twins glass?


    Two more games left. 160 Twins games have been played in 2012 season. It’s been yet another frustrating, 90-loss season for the Twins and their fans. As the offseason fast approaches, it will soon be time for the Hot Stove League. That means 40 man roster decisions, winter meetings, trades, free agents, and most important, rumors. Rumors will, as always, be prevalent throughout the offseason. Twins Daily is the place for all of that!

    One question that the Twins front office will have to ask themselves, and Twins fans will want to ask themselves (just for fun), will affect how the offseason plays out. Is the Twins' glass half full or half empty?

    Consider:

    • Josh Willingham came to Target Field and in his first year with the Twins, he hit a career-high 35 home runs and drove in a career-high 110 runs in a career-high 145 games.
    • Joe Mauer returned from a frustrating 2011 season to compete for the AL batting title and lead Major League Baseball in On-Base Percentage. Proving he can play a solid 1B, his 147 games played (assuming he plays the final two games in Toronto) will be a career high.
    • Ryan Doumit was brought in on a one-year, $3 million deal and posted his career bests in doubles (34), home runs (18), RBI (75) and games played (134). He did a nice job behind the plate and showed enough versatility to play some left field. The Twins locked him up for two more years at just $7 million.
    • Justin Morneau overcame wrist and brain injuries to have a monster second half.
    • Denard Span and Ben Revere did a nice job instigating the lineup, helping the team to more an 0.5 more runs per game than a year ago. Both played very good defense as well.
    • Lefty Scott Diamond came back from a difficult 2011 season to become the Twins best starting pitcher. With one start remaining, he is 12-8 with a 3.54 ERA (4-1 in Rochester, giving him 16 total wins in 2012 after losing 19 combined last year). He has already thrown 202.2 innings.
    • Glen Perkins was signed to a long-term contract extension this spring and has proven to be worth every cent regardless of the role he has been in. He’s 3-1 with 16 saves. In 69.1 innings, he has walked just 16 and struck out 75.
    • Jared Burton was signed as a minor league free agent after missing time the last couple of years with shoulder injuries. He became the Twins 8th inning stalwart. He was 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. In 61 innings, he walked just 15 and struckout 53.


    Note that if nothing changes, each of these players is scheduled to be back with the Twins in 2012. However, at the same time, a few realities need to be front of mind:

    • Despite the offensive performances listed above, the Twins offense ranked 10th out of 14 teams in the American League with 4.35 runs per game. They are 7th in batting average and 6th in on-base percentage. However, they are just 12th out of 14 in slugging percentage thanks to the second fewest home runs.
    • The Twins pitchers gave up 5.16 runs per game which was better than only Cleveland (5.17 R/G). Of course, their ERA is 4.78 and Cleveland’s is 4.77. What is staggering is that the Twins had just 924 strikeouts. The second-lowest total in the AL? Cleveland pitchers have struckout 1,058. Tampa’s pitchers led with 1,348 strikeouts.
    • Last year the Twins were the second-worst team in baseball. This year, despite relative health (at least compared to 2011) and strong performances by all of those listed above, the Twins will have another top five pick in the 2013 draft. They’re also competing over the final two games of the season with Cleveland for last place in baseball’s worst division.


    So again, the question for the Twins front office (and for all of you reading this, of course), how full is the Twins cup? Half Full? Or Half Empty?

    • Half Full - The Twins could make one trade and sign two or three mid-level pitchers who will make Diamond the Twins #3 or #4 starter, instead of #1 starter. In doing so, the Twins could be competitive in the AL Central in 2013 or at least 2014. Meanwhile, Kyle Gibson, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Herrmann and a few other minor leaguers could be ready to contribute by midseason.
    • Half Empty – The Twins need to blow this thing up. Trade Morneau. Trade Span. Trade Willingham. Acquire youth. Build for 2017 and hope that the rebuilding goes better than the Royals or Pirates plans have gone. The Pirates assured themselves of their 20th straight losing season. The Royals have one .500 season in the last 20.


    So as the Twins finish out their season north of the border, Twins Daily will be great place for Twins fans to discuss what direction we would encourage the Twins front office to go.
    This article was originally published in blog: How full is your Minnesota Twins glass? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 44 Comments
    1. DirkFun's Avatar
      DirkFun -
      Quote Originally Posted by sbknudson View Post
      It depends what our ambition is. If the goal is to return to the playoffs, then we are closer to half-full - a few changes could turn this into a contending team (especially in the AL central). If the goal is a Yankees-style domination of baseball, then it is definitely more half-empty.

      I would personally opt more for half-full - seeking to improve incrementally. The more radical the changes you seek, the greater the chance for failure as well. I'd hate to blow everything up, only to find that instead of having a World Series champion in 2017 we have instead three years of wasted baseball followed by one that is good but not great (which is all too likely). I guess I'm content with a competitive team and would appreciate but do not require a dominant one.

      Very well put. I agree with what you and Seth later said in the comments. You have to get to the playoffs first before you can get to the World Series. Incremental improvements is more the "Twins way" of doing things. Way too huge of a gamble blowing up the whole roster and suffering for 3-4 more years and might end up being worse than that in 2017. Glass is definitely half-full and would gladly take a few above-average to average FA's this offseason and compete for our AL Central Division title in 2015 and beyond.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      It would be half-full if the production we got from the players listed above contributed to a mediocre team, i.e. 81-81. But this team is far from that.

      Second, the other reason why this team is far from half full is the financials. The Twins are paying a lot of money to lose 95+ games two years in a row.

      Third, several of the players that Seth lists in the "half-full" category are far from proven. Scott Diamond had a good year, but is there any certainty in him having as good of a year next? Burton and Fein are short relievers, a position that has historically been hard to predict quality from year in to year out. Question marks abound about players like Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmalee, and even Ben Revere to some degree.
    1. LastOnePicked's Avatar
      LastOnePicked -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      If I've learned anything from the last two years, I'll take a competitive in the division team anytime over a team that may win a World Series once every 8 years and be poor 6 of the other 7 years.

      Seth, I admire your writing and I appreciate everything you contribute to Twins baseball talk, but I totally don't get this perspective. We've had enough of this route to failure over the last decade, and a pathetic three-and-out against the Yankees puts a far worse taste in my mouth than a stinky season with the promise of a stronger draft. It bothers me that people say "anything can happen in the playoffs" --which is proveably false. Carl Pavano cannot magically become Curt Schilling in the postseason. Danny Valencia cannot become Miguel Cabrera. Ron Gardenhire cannot become Tony LaRussa. You get out of the playoffs what you bring into it. The Twins brought nothing into the postseason over the last decade, and got exactly that out of it. The trophy is never a guarantee, but, c'mon, there's a reason why the Yankees considered drawing the Twins a first-round bye. And they were right.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by LastOnePicked View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      If I've learned anything from the last two years, I'll take a competitive in the division team anytime over a team that may win a World Series once every 8 years and be poor 6 of the other 7 years.

      Seth, I admire your writing and I appreciate everything you contribute to Twins baseball talk, but I totally don't get this perspective. We've had enough of this route to failure over the last decade, and a pathetic three-and-out against the Yankees puts a far worse taste in my mouth than a stinky season with the promise of a stronger draft. It bothers me that people say "anything can happen in the playoffs" --which is proveably false. Carl Pavano cannot magically become Curt Schilling in the postseason. Danny Valencia cannot become Miguel Cabrera. Ron Gardenhire cannot become Tony LaRussa. You get out of the playoffs what you bring into it. The Twins brought nothing into the postseason over the last decade, and got exactly that out of it. The trophy is never a guarantee, but, c'mon, there's a reason why the Yankees considered drawing the Twins a first-round bye. And they were right.
      It's a sound philosophy because baseball, more than any other sport, has the "best team on paper" losing to an "inferior team". The 2006 Cards were not the best team in baseball on paper, yet they won the World Series.

      You can't get to the World Series without making the playoffs. After that, anything can happen. I'm all for the Twins pushing harder to make trades to push them over the top in years they are competitive but the idea of "building a World Series team in March" is a ridiculously impossible challenge. You do your best to field a competitive team, then you supplement that team mid-season in years where you think you have a real shot to win it all (2006 and 2010 come to mind).

      The Twins have been very good at building a competitor. They have not been good at pushing hard to build a WS team mid-season.

      But before you build that "WS team", you need to be competitive. Walk before you run. The Twins are awful right now. Their first step should be a return to legitimacy, not burning it all down and hoping that 500 things come together perfectly in 2016 and they become a world-beater because chances are that most of those 500 things required to build a world-beater just won't happen on the timeline you hoped to see. All you have to do is look through the recent histories of really bad MLB franchises to see how "building to win it all" often leads to "more losing seasons as prospects sputter and fail".
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      A lot of stuff about how close this team is and all the good players we have. Yet 129-193 over the last 2 tears, drafted 2nd this year, likely 4th next year. So why is it that all these good players have such a bad record?
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I think my problem with this whole discussion is that it doesn't really address the fundamentals of why the Twins had so little playoff success despite winning the division fairly regularly.

      PLEASE don't just say "its a small sample size". It isn't really that small a sample size when you are talking about SOME success (not necessarily winning the WS but winning a game or a series).

      The real issue, I think, is whether some of the philosophical underpinnings of this organization just don't work when it comes to post-season success (or when it comes to success against the best teams in the league even in the regular season). Does their pitching philosophy work? Not just "pitch to contact" (I'll agree that is a variant in most organizations) but a lack of power pitching. Strict pitch counts. Regimented use of the bullpen. Slap hitting. Injury diagnosis & treatment and training methods. Strict adherence to a small percentage range when it comes to the amount spent on salaries. Gardenhire's long-term view of the season (battle your tail off and there's another game tomorrow). There's a lot more that I'm sure some of you who are more immersed in this can add. (I wish I could add relying on fundamental defense but it's hard to believe that after what we've seen for 2 years).

      At least for me, and I think for some others who see the glass as half-empty (if that), that's what it comes down to. i want some visible proof that the Twins understand that my discontent is not just about the last 2 years. That merely returning to relevance in the Central isn't good enough. I'm sure it would be good enough for the Twins organization because it would undoubtedly put butts in the seat and guarantee their profit margin.

      But I want more than that. I want ownership and management to do things that will convince me that they care not just about their profit margin but that they care about competing with the best -- including in the post-season.

      That doesn't meant that they have to blow up the team or that they can't be competitive next year. But when you never see anything really change, it's hard to believe that they really care about winning against the best.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      If I've learned anything from the last two years, I'll take a competitive in the division team anytime over a team that may win a World Series once every 8 years and be poor 6 of the other 7 years. I remember that used to be a big question for many Twins fans back when the Twins were winning lots of division titles. Doesn't make the goal any less. Always trying to win every game, but can't get to the World Series without getting to the playoffs.
      Well said, I've been saying this at BYTO for years. I hate the "throw everything in for one chance" model. I'd much rather have a gun loaded with multiple bullets than one silver one.

      On this subject - very much empty. This team was 15-20 games worse than what it needed to be to be a playoff team and that was with a number of things going well. People who convince themselves that this offense can carry a team next year with a future pitcher additions are going to be sadly disappointed.
    1. BD57's Avatar
      BD57 -
      Half-empty.

      Willingham, Doumit, Revere & Plouffe had the best years of their careers; Joe Mauer, meanwhile, was merely "very, very good" ... and we still only improved to "mediocre" in terms of scoring runs. While you can win with the offense we put on the field - there are playoff teams which have scored a similar number of runs - you'd better pitch REALLY well.

      And we don't.

      The challenge for us is we have to home-grow enough of the "top-flight" talent that we can afford to add a piece here & there which pushes us over the top.
    1. peterb18's Avatar
      peterb18 -
      Quote Originally Posted by LastOnePicked View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      If I've learned anything from the last two years, I'll take a competitive in the division team anytime over a team that may win a World Series once every 8 years and be poor 6 of the other 7 years.

      Seth, I admire your writing and I appreciate everything you contribute to Twins baseball talk, but I totally don't get this perspective. We've had enough of this route to failure over the last decade, and a pathetic three-and-out against the Yankees puts a far worse taste in my mouth than a stinky season with the promise of a stronger draft. It bothers me that people say "anything can happen in the playoffs" --which is proveably false. Carl Pavano cannot magically become Curt Schilling in the postseason. Danny Valencia cannot become Miguel Cabrera. Ron Gardenhire cannot become Tony LaRussa. You get out of the playoffs what you bring into it. The Twins brought nothing into the postseason over the last decade, and got exactly that out of it. The trophy is never a guarantee, but, c'mon, there's a reason why the Yankees considered drawing the Twins a first-round bye. And they were right.
      I agree with this analysis. However, I think we need a willing ownership. I don't know if the desire is there for a successful team that looks for world championships. Now that the stadium has been built for them they seem to be satisfied.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Wow, that is a lot of optimism for a team 10th in runs scored, and 2nd to last in runs allowed in the AL! I hope TR doesn't agree with you all, because they need to jump about 1 run better (or more) in ERA, and up in runs scored. They are anemic at SS and 2B, everything went right in the OF and 1B and C, and they still were tenth in runs scored. They have no help in AAA for their weak positions at all. They need 3 or 4 starting pitchers, and they have maybe 1-2 internal candidates. To fix this team for next year, they either need career years from their best players and 3-5 free agents, or 5-7 free agents. And we all know they aren't going to sign 5 free agents that fill SS, 2B, 4 starting pitchers, and 1-2 relievers. I obviously am a fan, or I wouldn't keep coming here, but I don't see how you can think this team is on the rise when they have no help in the minors, and have lost this many games in two years.

      Do you really think they'll sign enough players to fix the starting pitching? Has any team not in the top 5 in payroll ever signed that many new starters in one year? And, if they deal people, we know they'll keep Arcia and Hicks down and your OF will be Mastrionni as a starter instead of one of them. I'm impressed that you are all so optimistic, but I hope TR is not in agreement with you.
    1. Snortwood's Avatar
      Snortwood -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      Kyle Gibson will jump right in and be a ROY candidate
      Under Gardenhire the Twins almost never have a viable ROY candidate. Coincidence? I don't think so. Moreover, the idea that a rookie! and a starting pitcher!! might be given that opportunity is almost impossible to conceive.

      But desperate times make for desperate measures. We'll see how desperate Gardy is to start winning again if Gibson is ready, we'll see if Ronnie will give him that chance right from Opening Day or make some special patented plea that brings back Pavano (ugh) or some other has been.
    1. Snortwood's Avatar
      Snortwood -
      Middle infield and starting pitching is all they have to fix. Sounds so simple, and yet.. . .
    1. Chris in Osaka's Avatar
      Chris in Osaka -
      The Twins glass is less than half empty, the bottom is cracked, and the water is staining Ryan's desk. Not a pretty sight.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      A lot of stuff about how close this team is and all the good players we have. Yet 129-193 over the last 2 tears, drafted 2nd this year, likely 4th next year. So why is it that all these good players have such a bad record?
      Because none of them happen to be pitchers.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Snortwood View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      Kyle Gibson will jump right in and be a ROY candidate
      Under Gardenhire the Twins almost never have a viable ROY candidate. Coincidence? I don't think so. Moreover, the idea that a rookie! and a starting pitcher!! might be given that opportunity is almost impossible to conceive.
      Scott Diamond anybody?
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Half full, as long as the pitching is there and the middle infield isn't a train wreck, is it any more complicated than that?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Half full, as long as the pitching is there and the middle infield isn't a train wreck, is it any more complicated than that?
      No it isn't more complicated. But there is some STRONG nay-saying going on around here. The Twins were a COMPLETE mess at the beginning 1/6+ of the season. 7-21 DUE to players who are not going to be around anymore (Pavano, Liriano, Blackburn, and Marquis) is a big deal. And the woes continues for some of them for 1-3 months later. The Twins are truly about 10 games under performance, but most of that is the result of the disaster at the beginning of the season.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Half full, as long as the pitching is there and the middle infield isn't a train wreck, is it any more complicated than that?
      No it isn't more complicated. But there is some STRONG nay-saying going on around here. The Twins were a COMPLETE mess at the beginning 1/6+ of the season. 7-21 DUE to players who are not going to be around anymore (Pavano, Liriano, Blackburn, and Marquis) is a big deal. And the woes continues for some of them for 1-3 months later. The Twins are truly about 10 games under performance, but most of that is the result of the disaster at the beginning of the season.
      I think that there is part of the root cause of the problem...

      Other that Liriano, the current regime is the one who thought that Pavano should get a hefty extension for mediocre performance and Blackburn too (btw, he will be back, if Gardy and Andy and Terry are around, mark my words) and gave up the green light to sign Marquis who had be mediocre.

      So Pavano, Blackburn and Marquis are the symptoms in my book
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Half full, as long as the pitching is there and the middle infield isn't a train wreck, is it any more complicated than that?
      No it isn't more complicated. But there is some STRONG nay-saying going on around here. The Twins were a COMPLETE mess at the beginning 1/6+ of the season. 7-21 DUE to players who are not going to be around anymore (Pavano, Liriano, Blackburn, and Marquis) is a big deal. And the woes continues for some of them for 1-3 months later. The Twins are truly about 10 games under performance, but most of that is the result of the disaster at the beginning of the season.
      Let's ignore that just about everything (aside from MI) went perfectly for the Twins on offense. And they still had an average offense. Or that there's only one starter on the team that anyone has any confidence in.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      If I was a Pohlad or concerned about the Twins bottom line, I chose the win now path versus rebuild mode to win 2 years from now. I think you trade Morneau to dump his salary and go with Parmalee at first. Keep Span and Revere, and bring in two starting pitchers.
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